Online Music & Movie Library for MIT

Proposal title: Online Music & Movie Library for MIT
Name: Keith Winstein
Date submitted: 11/12/2001
Proposal type: Student proposal

  1. Brief project description (two or three paragraphs at most)
    The Internet has gotten a bad rap for its impact in enabling illegal music and movie distribution, helping copyright infringement through efficient distribution and listing services like Napster, Aimster, Kazaa, Audiogalaxy, etc. These services have used technology to make music and movie distribution more efficient, but also more illegal.

    This proposal would showcase the "good" and legal efficiencies technology and the Internet can bring to music and movie distribution while still respecting applicable law. It would demonstrate that technology can benefit educational communities like MIT (with regard to distribution of music and movies) even without making their members into criminals. It would be good PR for MIT, the music and motion picture industries, and possibly for Microsoft, to show their relevant contributions able to function together amiably.

    Essentially, the proposal is for the MIT Libraries to put their library of audio recordings and motion pictures online, accessable only to the educational MIT community eligable for access to the physical MIT libraries. Patrons would be restricted such that only one copy of an audio recording or movie would be playing at a time, identical to if the items were actually being checked out of a physical library. Anti-infringement software, possibly from Microsoft, would be deployed as necessary.

    And finally, although this case of a library making its physical collection available online to an identical set of patrons in an education community is easily distinguishable from the case (UMG Recordings, Inc. v., Inc., 92 F. Supp. 2d 349 (2000)), in view of the still-unresolved legal questions that would be raised by this proposal, its implementation would be vetted by copyright scholars as well as MIT counsel, and discussed (licensed if necessary) with the music and motion picture industries. It could even be a full-scale collaboration with those industries to showcase the (rare) positive consequences of combining educational institutions, libraries, the efficiencies brought by technology and the Internet, and the media industries.

  2. Describe as succinctly and as compellingly as you can, why you think this project is significant - from an educational perspective, a technical perspective, or other.
    Lots of classes use music and movies as part of their curricula. French students at MIT must go to the LARC in building 56 to watch French movies at preassigned times. The music department requires students to check out physical copies of CDs from the Music Library, only a finite number of copies of which are in the collection. Being able to access these media anywhere on campus (with a computer), "checking them out" virtually for only the length of time they're being played, would have tangible benefits to the educational process. Additionally, this project would break new ground in the area of library practices, and it would give MIT the opportunity to pursue a leadership role in demonstrating the "wired" future of music and movies at college campuses in the United States.

  3. Who are the key participants in this project? Have they all agreed to enroll in 6.096 for the spring semester, and to continue working on this project for at least a year?
    Keith Winstein is the key participant. I have agreed to enroll in 6.096. This project would have the support of the Student Information Processing Board.

  4. List two or three specific milestones to be achieved in the project by the end of the spring semester.
    Nailing down procedural and legal issues If determined to be necessary, commencing negotiations with music and movie industries Establishing technical details regarding distribution method for music and movies

  5. List two or three specific milestones to be achieved in the project by the end of the first year.
    Archiving significant portion of music collection, moderate portion of movie collection.

  6. What are you requesting funding for (e.g., what equipment, UROP positions, other)?
    Moderate funding is required for equipment to record and serve the content. If Microsoft anti-infringement software is going to be showcased, whatever costs are required to deploy these technologies. Finally, we would require UROP expenses for people who would actually feed CDs and DVDs/VHS tapes into computers to archive them. If we have to write our own software, we would need UROP expenses for this as well.

    MIT and possibly Microsoft counsel clearly would need to be consulted on this project. I don't know the expenses, if any, of dealing with these organizations.

  7. Do you have a proposed project advisor or advisory board? Who is it?
    The MIT Libraries have a significant "DSPACE" initiative; this project could be under their auspices. Prof. Abelson and David Mitchell have expressed interest in these issues, the latter with regards to possible showcasing of Microsoft anti-infringement technology.

  8. Do you have any interest in working on this project as an intern at Microsoft Research over the summer? (Saying that you want to do an internship does not make your proposal more competitive, and we cannot guarantee internships to everyone who is interested. We're just asking for the information now in order to do some early planning.)

  9. Any other comments or feedback you care to provide.
    This project was proposed on behalf of SIPB for the first iCampus call in January 2000, and was turned down primarily, as I understand, due to legal uncertainty. I want to stress, then, that I am only interested in doing this proposal if MIT is confident it would not end in a huge lawsuit. As I see it, this is an opportunity for good PR from all sides, including the media industries, to show the positive effects of collaboration and applying technology to the educational process and media distribution, and this would be the only spirit under which I think it is advisable to pursue this.

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